Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cheap printer inks

Yesterday I ordered a pack of 5 ink cartridges for a HP deskjet all-in-one printer.  They are now on their way from Sydney to me in Western Australia, freight free, costing only $15.90 AUD.  In  an Australia-wide company, OfficeWorks, the price is $112.00.  The OfficeWorks package is a genuine HP product in a nice cardboard box.  Mine will come in a plastic bag wrapped in bubblewrap, delivered to my door.

The printer manufacturers caution printer owners not to buy cheap inks as that is where their profits really come from.  Most genuine inks cost more than a new printer.  Another bit of trickery is the fact that most new printers have half filled cartridges in them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A language problem?

I, at 75 years of age, can get by in four languages.  English of course, is my own language, but my time in Papua New Guinea taught me the basics of conversation of the two Lingua Franca of PNG, Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin.
I learnt the basic 50 words of German when I was an apprentice at a large government engineering works in the 1950s.  I was befriended by a German workmate who was a Luftwaffe pilot during WW2.  Somehow I felt that a pilot was not part of the atrocities that were part of  the German war machine and I became friends with a German group who had settled in Western Australia and were ‘fitting in’.  They built houses for each other in a group project and I followed along listening to their conversations and learning their 50 words of German.
Later I read more about the atrocities and the propaganda that sucked in the population of Germany to despise Jews and the acceptance of the Final Solution.

What is strange is that when I now read something on-line which demands a comment I immediately think of adding my comment in my 50 word Deutsche. What is happening?

In the 1990s my wife Joan and I spent a pleasant 4 weeks in the south of France.  Joan had been a French teacher and spoke the language well.  When we were about to return home to Australia we had to drive to Frankfurt to fly out.  Joan told me it was my turn to book a hotel in Frankfurt.  I rang a hotel and started to bumble my way through my simple German and the receptionist interrupted me saying...'excuse me sir, do you speak English?'   Whew!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Australia's National Broadband Network

Yesterday I helped my brother Graham set up his National Broadband Network connection.  The internal box had been installed about a week ago and what should have been a simple connection stumped me, so I called the Telstra support people and with quite a bit of fiddling around was guided through the resetting of the modem and a change of password and everything is running well.   

NBN requires its own phone and Graham’s nice phones would not work with the new setup.   He was pleasantly surprised at the download speed of 24mbps (Megabits per second).    My download from my wireless provider just a few minutes ago was 9.24mbps which I feel is a reasonable speed.  However my speed may vary depending on the time of the day  and how many people are using the service at that time.  Around 4pm when kids are home from school, mine will slow down considerably.

South Korea boasts the fastest connection speed @ 21.9mbps.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Alzheimer's Research

About a month ago I had a phone call from the McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation of Western Australia.  The caller asked if I was interested in joining a clinical trial of a drug which is used to delay the clinical symptoms of Alzheimers Disease.  The study will run for a minimum of 4 years. I agreed to talking about the trial at a later date and had a follow-up phone call from  the McClusker Foundation yesterday.

After a detailed explanation, I agreed to participate.    The trial goes something like this... an initial interview with a blood test and a couple of memory tests.  Sign the documents and start.    The name of the trial is long.

A Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo Controlled, Parallel Group Study to Simultaneously Qualify a Biomarker Algorithm for Prognosis of Risk of Developing Mild Cognative Impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease (MCE due to AD) and to Test the Safety and Efficacy of Pioglitazone to Delay the Onset of MCI due to AD in Cognitively Normal Subjects

Or as I read it, there are two groups, one taking a placebo and the other taking Pioglitazone. We are testing the safety and efficacy of the drug.   I already have symptoms of MCI (mild cognative impairment) I am losing names and my car keys.

I’ll let everyone know how things work out, if I remember.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Papua New Guinea expatriates gathering

last Friday I attended a gathering of Papua New Guinea expatriates.  There were about 50 of us and there was lots of reminiscing of our times there.  We had a nice lunch and a listened to a visiting speaker named Eric McCrum.  Eric features regularly on ABC radio as The Bird Man and is very knowledgeable about Australian birds.   

He was invited to do a presentation about his time in Papua New Guinea.  His presentation was an old fashioned slide show with his commentary.  I thought that it was a well practised package he had used many times before, probably at senior citizens’ gatherings or schools.    It was like preaching to the converted as all of us had spent time in PNG.  I noticed a few people turning off and a couple of oldies having a bit of shuteye.  Never-the-less, it was worthwhile as there were some familiar scenes in the 100+ slides that just about everyone would have remembered.  All in all, a good day where I met and talked with a few people I had not met before. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Goodbye Pencil Pine

All gone

Some time ago I mentioned a pencil pine in my front garden which had to go.   It has gone.   It was felled in no time by a Samoan couple whilst I went to an ATM to withdraw some cash. When I returned, they were doing a poor cleanup and then moved next door to remove 4 small branches of my neighbours’ tree hanging over the fence of their next door neighbours.  
They conned my neighbour suggesting that her neighbours were unhappy with the branches hanging over their fence.  Her neighbours weren’t home, and their displeasure was supposedly told to the tree people by their neighbour, in the next house along.  Sounds like BS to me.

I was a bit offside with their price and the fact that they left a stump protruding about 6” above ground level.  They offered to return with a stump grinder to remove the stump at an extra fee, but I told them to be off with their tax-free cash.

I spent an hour digging a little deeper around the stump and cut it below ground level with my blunt chain saw.   Must buy a new chain.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Domestic solar power

I have solar panels on my roof, feeding electricity into the power grid @ 40 cents a unit.  I buy power from the grid @ 7.135 cents a unit to do my night time washing etc and most power bills either give me a credit or a very small bill.  I like it!    For the last 6 weeks my solar system has been down and I have not sold any power to the power company.  

The problem was a faulty inverter which converts DC power from the panels into AC 240v.  The company which installed the system no longer services my system and the warranty etc has been taken over by a German company.  It has been over a month without a replacement inverter and only yesterday did I receive a phone call telling me that a replacement inverter would be installed today.   A young man installed it in about 10 minutes and even with heavy cloud cover I can see power being produced.

The entire system is a Chinese-made setup and many customers have had up to 4 replacement inverters within the 5 year warranty period.   I asked the installer whether other brands were any better and he told me that it seems like the German brand also has problems.  A new inverter cost around $400 installed, so if this one fails again, I will buy a new inverter with a new 5 year warranty.

The state government is the owner of the power grid and power stations and is hinting that owners of solar setups will be charged a higher fee over regular users to maintain the power lines and infrastructure.  I guess that's reasonable.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Esperance, Western Australia

Our road trip to Esperance was somewhat tiring; over 7 hours of driving with little of interest en route.  I was great catching up with sister Shirl and her kids  and Esperance town is a beautiful place with fine beaches and scenery.

I renamed Esperance 4Wheel Drive City as it seems obligatory to have at least 3, 4WD vehicles parked in the driveway.  There are a few car yards selling new and SH cars, but they don’t have the sales of the 4W drives.

In the business area of the town the pedestrian crosswalks are the opposite of crosswalks in Perth or Fremantle city.  People crossing have to give way to vehicles.  At first I thought that was a bit silly, but there is a lot of  traffic and also lots of people (especially during Easter) and the constant pedestrian crossings would certainly cause traffic chaos.

downtown Esperance

the town foreshore is grassed, with a nice white beach and lots of meeting places and facilities like these toilets/showers

Driving back to Fremantle took a little longer as the main roads were feeding cars, caravans and 4WDrives from various Easter holiday sites around the coast.  We left at 7.30am and arrived at my house around 4.30pm.

I have an air compressor which has been unserviceable for some time.  It is invaluable for blowing out dust in the many computers I restore for needy people.  The regulator died and air leaked out all around it and none went into the air tank.  The price for a replacement regulator in Australia was almost as much as I paid for the whole thing; so I went on eBay, found one in China for A$11.70 post free and delivered to my door today.  It was exactly the same as the original and the compressor is back on deck, working well.
old bits
new regulator fitted

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Road trip to Esperance

My sister Shirley turns 70 on Sunday.  Brother Graham and I are driving down south to Esperance for the celebration.  Leaving early Friday; returning Monday.  It is over 700 kilometres and we will be sharing the driving.  Not a lot to see en route...just farms and a few small towns.

Esperance is a nice seaside town but I would rather it a bit closer to the city. 

  Easter  is the time when people from Kalgoorlie head down to take a look at the ocean and even take a dip in the cool waters.   Sister Shirl has lived down there for many years to be near her daughter Karen.   When she needs to head up to Perth for something important the return airfare is around $800.  That’s about three return trips to Bali.